Division I and NAIA Hitting in 2022

uHIT Custom and Season-Over-Season Changes

Div. I and NAIA Teams Got Hitting Boosts

 February 3, 2023

Two Teams. One Result.

Coaches made uHIT Custom part of practice. Practice made perfect on the field.

Division I and NAIA hitting changed for two teams in 2022. Two teams made uHIT Custom a priority part of their approach (learn more about this training here). One team competed in the NAIA and the other in Division I. Here, we look at season-over-season changes for the teams as a result of implementing this hitting philosophy, and we zoom in on a few players to get specific case studies. Enjoy the ride!

Want to run the numbers yourself? Check out Colorado State’s 2021 and 2022 numbers, along with Central Methodist’s 2021 and 2022 numbers.

Team Changes in Practice and OPS

When you implement uHIT Custom as a team, some players are going to gravitate to it and others just won’t. The same applied for Division I and NAIA hitting in 2022. So, the coaches of Colorado State and Central Methodist Universities worked with that expectation. They made uHIT a key part of their team approach to hitting in 2022. Whether Div. I or NAIA, implementing hitting programs can have common elements. Let’s look closer at each to see.

NAIA Hitting: Central Methodist Fall Training

In 2021-22, Central Methodist made uHIT Custom part of the Fall Practice routine. Hitting live in the cage? Going next to uHIT on your phone. Soft-toss at a screen? Going next to uHIT on the phone. With a break from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, Central Methodist got back on uHIT Custom as their pre-season began. They continued to use uHIT Custom, along with the other tools of uHIT Plus that come along with it (e.g., Zone Enhancement to target specific pitchers’ repertoire). Coaches monitored progress the whole way with the uHIT Dashboard (learn more from here).

Div. I Hitting: Colorado State Pre-Season Training

That same season, Colorado State took a different approach. New to uHIT, the team began in earnest with only 10 players just after New Years. In other words, no Fall Practice with uHIT. But the head coach picked players who would gravitate to the special tool she was bringing to them. When all said and done, the team worked on 9500+ pitches in uHIT Custom.

OPS Changes at Div. I and NAIA Teams

Let’s look at what these changes in practice meant for these teams’ OPS. Like the graphics show, Colorado State posted a +44 points increase in its team OPS. Central Methodist also saw a jump — a whopping +197 points in OPS for its returning hitters! (Note that both teams were not a simple team OPS comparison. Why is that? Well, Colorado State was starting from no uHIT Custom experience in 2021 and going to 10 players using it. Central Methodist on the other hand had all of its returning players in 2022 already start working with uHIT Custom in 2021. So for their season-over-season comparison, it didn’t make sense to include seniors from 2021 (not returning in 2022) and freshman from 2022 (no comparison data in 2021)).

And lastly, what a difference some more hitting makes in team winning. Colorado State hung in there against some real powerhouses in 2022 and Central Methodist won their conference title in the Heart of America Conference.

Case Study #1: Madison

Central Methodist rode to a conference title on the performance of 2022’s Player of the Year. What helped her become player of the year? Well, let’s look at her performance on-field and in uHIT Custom.

In 2021, Madison pulled an impressive freshman season with a 468-point OBP and a 554-point SLG (1022-point OPS). Jumping ahead to 2022, Madison built on that solid beginning, posting a 514-point OBP and a 837-point SLG (1351-point OPS). So what did her uHIT training look like in between?

Pitch Recognition Skills Development in NAIA Hitting

In Pitch Recognition, 2879 pitches. In Zone Recognition, 1836 pitches. Cumulative since beginning uHIT, over 10,000 pitches in uHIT Custom, split between Zone and Pitch Recognition (as the graphic shows). In uHIT Custom, you face right-handed (RHP) and left-handed pitchers (LHP) separately. Madison is on the 5th round of Zone Recognition uHIT Custom (each round is a 9-inning set) for both RHP and LHP. In Pitch Recognition, she has really hit her stride: she’s on the 6th round of RHP Pitch Recognition uHIT Custom, but she’s on her 28th round of LHP Pitch Recognition!

Perhaps you’re wondering why such an imbalance between LHP and RHP for Pitch Recognition. This is all the guiding hand of our automated coach, Coach Hewitt. If a player is struggling with one skill, the coach moves her over to another, only to return to that skill later. But, in the case of LHP Pitch Recognition, Coach Hewitt is applying the K.I.S.S. strategy: Keep It Simple Stupid. Madison is making great progress at this skill, so let’s keep going with it. even though a purely analytical approach would say it would be best to move Madison around between different pitchers and different skills, Coach Hewitt knows that confidence is just as important as telling a riseball from a dropball. So as long as Madison keeps passing inning goals, Coach Hewitt keeps her on LHP Pitch Recognition uHIT Custom.

Case Study #2: Peyton

Peyton was one of the few players who jumped in feet first with uHIT Custom. Most players need more cajoling because uHIT is such an unfamiliar approach to hitting (“How’s an app gonna help me swing the bat?”). But Peyton went right in and we can see the results from looking at her season-over-season.

In 2021, Peyton posted an OBP of 313 points and an SLG of 375 points (688-point OPS). In 2022, after a season of using uHIT though, Peyton posted a 346-point OBP and a 496-point SLG (842-point OPS). Let’s look at Peyton’s uHIT Custom performance to get a better idea of what might have changed while facing the same competition in both seasons.

Pitch Recognition Skills Development in Div. I Hitting

In 2022, Peyton posted over 1800 pitches on uHIT Custom. She was a great player-example of how a Div. I team member can benefit from hitting training with uHIT. Today, she’s shined the most in RHP Pitch Recognition uHIT Custom (currently on her 5th round). And she’s broken into Zone Recognition on LHP (1st round) and RHP (2nd round). Most telling for Peyton is her change from first Assessment to latest re-Assessment in Pitch Recognition: she began at 67% Accuracy and 556ms Reaction Time; now she’s at 90% Accuracy and 442ms Reaction Time. Not only is she faster but she is now more accurate for pitches she recognizes. That’s the biggest driver there is for that +154-point OPS change!

Case Study Gallery

Below you can look at other players who incorporated uHIT Custom into their regular routine. These are more examples of how Div. I and NAIA hitting changed in 2022 for these teams. On each photo, you can see how much they used uHIT Custom and what changes they saw translate to the field. Yes, a phone app did this. But not just any phone app, only uHIT when it has uHIT Custom, along with a dedicated player who wants to perform at the plate badly enough to work at it.